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Juan Gonzalez, poses next to the bronze statue of the late Beatle John Lennon in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. When a statue of Lennon was inaugurated in a leafy Havana park 13 years ago, souvenir-seekers kept stealing the iconic circular spectacles that adorned it. When officials tried to glue them on, vandals simply broke them off. The solution: Gonzalez, the guardian of John Lennon's glasses, who has spent nearly all his days at the park for the last 13 years. He places the glasses gently on the crooner's nose when tourists show up to snap pictures, then tucks them away in his pocket when they leave. Despite his 96 years of age, Gonzalez says he's not ready to quit this one-man mission to help preserve the memory of one of music's all-time greats. Imagine. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
In Havana, 95-year-old minds Lennon statue’s specs
First Published Dec 08 2013 02:52 pm • Last Updated Dec 08 2013 02:53 pm

Havana • John Lennon needed help. At least his statue did.

A bronze likeness of the Beatle, who was assassinated 33 years ago Sunday, was inaugurated in a leafy Havana park 13 years ago. But souvenir-seekers kept stealing the iconic circular spectacles that adorned it.

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Officials tried gluing them on. But they should have known better: Vandals simply broke them off.

Enter Juan Gonzalez, a 95-year-old retired farm worker who lives across the street. For the last 13 years, four days a week, Gonzalez has showed up at 6 a.m. for a 12-hour shift, wearing a government security guard’s uniform and cap.

As tourists arrive, he places the glasses on the singer’s nose and waits patiently as they snap pictures. When they leave, he gently tucks the glasses away in a shirt pocket next to his cigars.

Gonzalez probably didn’t hear much of the Beatles in their heyday. He was already middle-aged and the communist government then frowned on rock ‘n roll and its long-haired practitioners. Not much of their music made it to the ears of farmers in rural Cuba and he moved to the capital only about 20 years ago to be with his daughter. But he says he’s a fan now.

Despite his age, Gonzalez says he’s not ready to quit his mission to help preserve the memory of one of modern music’s greats, and to meet people from all corners of the globe.

"All the foreigners that come here take a picture of me, both men and women. They sit here with me and take pictures," Gonzalez said. "I am in every country in the world."




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